U.K. Police Chief Says Attack Is a Matter of 'When, Not If'

Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service Bernard Hogan-Howe speaks at the London School of Economics in London January 16, 2012. Hogan-Howe said an attack in the U.K. was inevitable but police rely on public support. Luke MacGregor/Reuters

U.K. police are treating the prospect of an attempted extremist attack on home soil as an inevitability said the head of the Metropolitan police, The Guardian reports.

Over the last 12 months France, Germany, Belgium and Turkey have experienced deadly attacks claimed by militant group Islamic State (ISIS). Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he wanted to offer reassurance to the British public that the trend would not endanger the U.K., and said police vigilance has not changed.

"I know that with each new outrage and especially those on our doorstep in Europe, there is a greater sense of fear that Britain will be the next victim in this wave of cruel and mindless mass murder," he said.

"Our threat level has been at severe for two years—it remains there. It means an attack is highly likely. You could say it is a case of when, not if."

Hogan-Howe spoke as Britain's most senior counter-terrorism police officer, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, said the greatest advantage U.K. police had in preventing attacks was public assistance. The BBC reported that relevant hotlines receive over 3,600 calls a day and Rowley said even more input was appreciated.

"The information we receive helps our investigations, intelligence-gathering and preventative work; they help us carry out significant protective security operations; they help us get the right support for vulnerable people, and they undermine the plans of terrorists," he said in a blog for the National Police Chiefs' Council.